Is there anything more tragic / dramatic than the tale of old friends who ultimately become bitter enemies? It's been the subject of countless movies, WWE plotlines, songs, and diss tracks. And while you wouldn't think of pop stars churning out radio-friendly hits as being involved in a war of attrition, the fact of the matter is you don't get to the top unless you take the work that you do very seriously. This could be why there's beef between Taylor Swift and Katy Perry. Here's a timeline of their ire towards one another.
How did the beef between Taylor Swift and Katy Perry start?
While historians are unsure as to the exact moment Tay Tay and K. Perr began their friendship, there's evidence on Twitter that it dates back as early as July 6, 2009. Katy Perry tweeted out that the "Blank Space" singer was "sweet as pie" and that she wanted to collaborate on a song with the artist. Taylor was equally friendly with Katy and dished out on Twitter how much she loved her "Waking Up In Vegas" track.
They were so close at one point that Taylor was calling Katy's birthday a "party-licious" affair. Taylor was certainly laying the love on thick — you don't just say that someone's bday was party-licious if you didn't entirely mean it, because what does that even mean?
In 2010, they actually performed "Hot N Cold" together when Katy joined Tay on her "Fearless" tour. There's video footage of these two concert titans sharing a stage as the crowd went wild. All was well in pop-stardom land for the two ladies.
However, drama started occurring behind the scenes, or stage rather, when it came to securing dancers for their respective shows. Katy had three performers on the road for her "California Dreams" tour end up on Taylor Swift's "Red" series of shows. However, before the "Red" tour was over, those three dancers jumped ship to join Katy on "Prismatic."
The trouble begins a few years into their friendship, around 2012 or 2013.
And like all good artists, Taylor Swift turned what was honestly going on with her into a song. Remember the track "Bad Blood"? She told Rolling Stone at the time that it was about another female pop star.
"It had to do with business. She basically tried to sabotage an entire arena tour. She tried to hire a bunch of people out from under me," she told the longtime music outlet.
At the time, no one knew that issues were brewing between Tay and Katy, and the "Wildest Dreams" singer still hasn't confirmed or denied the track was about the "Dark Horse" singer. Folks who were keen to monitor the two pop stars' social media accounts may have pieced together that Taylor was talking about Katy when, shortly after the interview, the "Last Friday Night" singer tweeted, "Watch out for the Regina George in sheep's clothing."
Regina George is the alpha "mean girl" in the classic piece of American cinema (and I'm not being sarcastic here) Mean Girls. In an interview with the Telegraph, Taylor also said that she's never going to talk about which female pop star she was referring to: "I’m not giving them anything to write about. I’m not walking up the street with boys, I’m not stumbling out of clubs drunk. But I’m never going to talk about her in my interview. It’s not going to happen."
The "Shark" incident is, funnily enough, probably the most significant moment in the Katy Perry / Taylor Swift beef timeline.
How could anyone forget about the backup dancer during Katy Perry's Super Bowl performance, affectionately known as Left Shark, who had no idea what was going on on-stage and forgot all of their dance moves?
Well, during a May 2015 performance of "Bad Blood," Taylor had one of her backup dancers dress as a shark, which led people to believe this was a dig at Katy Perry.
Just two months later in July of 2015, Nicki Minaj somehow became part of the beef when she was upset that "Anaconda" didn't get a nomination for the MTV Video Music Award for Video of the Year. She tweeted, "If your video celebrates women with very slim bodies, you will be nominated for vid of the year."
Taylor took this as a slight, writing, "I've done nothing but love & support you. It's unlike you to pit women against each other. Maybe one of the men took your slot."
Katy used this as an opportunity to indirectly take a jab at Taylor, writing, "Finding it ironic to parade the pit women against other women argument about as one unmeasurably capitalizes on the takedown of a woman..."
In October of 2015, Taylor re-committed in a GQ interview to not revealing who she was talking about in the popular track. "I never said anything that would point a finger in the specific direction of one specific person, and I can sleep at night knowing that. I knew the song would be assigned to a person, and the easiest mark was someone who I didn’t want to be labeled with this song. It was not a song about heartbreak. It was about the loss of friendship."
In February of 2016, Katy added Taylor to her guest list for a Grammy after-party, but Tay Tay didn't attend the affair. Then in May of 2016, Katy's Twitter account was hacked, so folks thought her "miss u baby" tweet to the "Style" singer was legit, but it wasn't.
Then, in June 2016, Katy Perry announced she was releasing a perfume called Mad Love, which is a prominent lyric in the hook for "Bad Blood." Things heated up even more in July of the same year when Calvin Harris, who dated Taylor Swift and worked with the singer to create "What You Came For," spoke out.
His Twitter rant was the stuff of pop star social media tea legend, and he managed to name Katy Perry in it, too.
"I know you're off tour and you need someone new to try and bury like Katy ETC but I'm not that guy, sorry. I won't allow it." Katy replied with a GIF of Hillary Clinton making a pretty knowing look along with the tweet, "Time, the ultimate truth-teller."
In September of 2016, Katy responded to a tweet asking if she'd ever collaborate with Taylor Swift. She wrote, "If she says sorry, sure!"
Then, in October 2016, a video of Katy Perry dancing to "Famous" at a Kanye West concert came out. In the video is the famous line where Ye refers to Tay as a "b---h," something that Yeezus says Taylor approved of before releasing the track. But she says she didn't appreciate being called that in Kanye's song. Kim Kardashian stood by Kanye and released a conversation between her then-husband and the singer showing she was a-OK with the track.
In May of 2017, Katy released the track "Swish, Swish" which she says doesn't have a response to "Bad Blood." She told ET: "There is no one thing that’s calling out any one person."
But the track seems to contain a veiled reference to Taylor: "You're about as cute as an old coupon expired. Your game is tired, you should retire."
In the same month, she confirmed with James Corden on his "Carpool Karaoke" that yes, there was a situation between her and Taylor, and it did involve backup dancers.
She also said that she tried to make amends, but Taylor instead decided to write a track about it. "Honestly, [Taylor] started it, and it's time for her to finish it. It's about backing dancers. It's so crazy. There [are] three backing dancers that went on tour with her tour, and they asked me before they went on tour if they could go," she said.
Katy continued, "I was like, 'Yeah, of course. I'm not on a record cycle. Get the work. She's great. But I will be on a record cycle, probably, in about a year, so be sure to put a 30-day contingency in your contract so you can get out if you wanna join me when I say I'm going back on.' So that year came up, and I texted all of them because I'm very close with them."
"I said, 'Look, just FYI: I'm about to start. I want to put the word out there.' They said, 'Okay. We're gonna go talk to management about it.' They did, and they got fired. I tried to talk to [Taylor] about it, and she wouldn't speak to me. I do the right thing anytime that it feels like a fumble. It was a full shutdown, and then she writes a song about me. And I'm like 'Okay, cool, cool. That's how you wanna do it? Karma,'" she said.
Then in June of 2017, EW reports that Katy said Taylor tried to "assassinate [her] character." In the same month, Taylor made her entire song collection available on Spotify the same day that Katy's "Witness" album dropped.
In June of 2017, Katy said on a podcast she was ready for a reconciliation. "I forgive her, and I’m sorry for anything I ever did, and I hope the same from her," she said.
But in August of 2017, the "Daisies" singer said she still hadn't heard anything from Taylor about their feud. "Listen, I’d love for the beef to end. I’d love to take it off the barbecue," she told Sirius XM's The Morning Mashup.
Things were quiet for a while, until, in May of 2018, Katy had an actual olive branch sent to Taylor's dressing room during the singer's "Reputation" tour.
Taylor wrote on an Instagram Story, "So I just got to my dressing room and found this actual olive branch. This means so much to me. Thank you Katy," and then she topped it off with a pink heart emoji.
In June of 2019, Taylor sent Katy a plate of cookies with "Peace at Last" written in frosting and posted it to Instagram with the caption, "Feels good." Taylor responded with a ton of heart emojis.
That same month, Katy appeared in Taylor's music video for "You Need to Calm Down," and Tay shared a photo of them dressed up as a cheeseburger and fries.
The best part? Katy posted the same photo with a hilarious caption.
In September of 2020, Taylor sent Katy and Orlando Bloom's baby daughter a cute baby blanket. The "Not the End of the World" singer posted a snap of the thoughtful gift online with a caption praising her gesture.
As of now, they still seem to be besties, and it looks like it's going to stay that way.